MONTPELIER, Vt. — A medical group is urging the Vermont Legislature to get more doctors involved in health care oversight by requiring that the state’s health care oversight board include at least one clinician.

Vermont Public Radio reported Tuesday that Democratic state Sen. Ginny Lyons, of Chittenden County, is writing a bill to require that a clinician fill one of the seats on the five-member board.

Up until a year ago, there were two clinicians on the board; today there are none.

Jessa Barnard of the Vermont Medical Society said on-the-ground experience could help other regulators understand how concepts translate to better patient care.

“That clinician perspective is unique, and having someone who’s been in the exam room with patients and managed patient care and seen how health care works on the ground is a necessary and valuable perspective,” Barnard said.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott recently appointed retired government official Tom Pelham to an open seat on the board. Pelham worked on financial issues under four Vermont governors.

Barnard said the request was not in response to any particular board member or recent appointment. “That’s been in the works since our board met over the summer, so it’s an overall policy and direction we hope to see the board go regardless of any specific member on the board,” she said.

Board Chairman Kevin Mullin said the panel wants more input from clinicians and the board is strengthening an existing advisory panel of 21 primary care physicians.

“You can only do your job if you have the best information available, and so it just gives a different perspective of information that maybe someone with a financial background may not understand,” Mullin says.

It’s unclear if the governor’s office will support Lyons’ proposal.

Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said there should be a discussion about appointing a practicing clinician, comparing it to appointing utility executives to utility regulatory boards.


This story has been corrected to show that the last name of the Vermont Medical Society’s board chairman is Mullin, not Mullen.